about the author

Daniel W. Thompson is an urban planner in Richmond, VA, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His fiction has appeared recently or is forthcoming at publications like Bartleby Snopes, Literary Orphans, Jersey Devil Press, Cleaver Magazine, and Spartan.

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Daniel W. Thompson

Helping my father hold it while he tries to urinate. It’s going everywhere, splattering on the toilet lid and floor tiles, coming in spurts like a kinked water hose. There we go, aimed properly but now he’s trying to walk away and he’s not finished. Still spurting, still splattering, and I’m stepping in the yellow puddles. Just get him back to the bed.

“Left Dad. Left.”

He keeps looking to the right, turning right into the wall, into the wall, into the wall. Turn him around.

“Left Dad. Left.”

Got him going left. He’s so heavy. How did Mom pick him up? He’s going right again. I can’t hold his left side up and stop him from going right.

“Left Dad. Left.”

At the bed. Get him into the bed. OK. He’s OK. I can’t believe I had to hold it but this is it. This is where responsibility starts or changes or whatever the fuck life means for me to do now.

The left side. That’s the side that doesn’t work and he’s running away from it like a mother from her runt. Let it die. It’s no use to him anymore so let it die. Kill it with your mind. Kill it with your collapsed carotid. Kill it with two packs a day.

No, don’t try to get up. Nurse. Where’s the damn nurse? Where’s Mom? He shouldn’t try to get up again. What’s he trying to say? He can’t talk. Foamy spittle dribbles out the creased corner of his mouth when he tries to talk. The left side of his face is stunned frozen like one of those weathered statues in some old park. Hard as stone.

Back down. Please sit back down. Good. Lying down. He’s looking right. I guess he’s looking out the window. It’s all blue sky like an abstract art piece. Like something he would have painted. All blue to stare at and imagine something else.

At least he can look out the window. At least the window’s not to his left. At least we got the bathroom over with and now, and now maybe it’ll be OK. At least it’s something to imagine.

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